Molon Labe and White Supremacism : The most famous phrase never to be spoken.

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10m Nov 9, 2020


CLAIM : When Xerxes’ demanded for the Greeks at Thermopylae to lay down their weapons, Leonidas defiantly replied molōn labe.

"MOLŌN LABE" the epic phrase most likely never said.

In this video Dr. Owen Rees guides us through the history and historiography of Molon Labe," by discussing the sources, the variations of the story and how it evolved over time.

But more importantly Dr. Rees touches on the appropriation of this phrase and other aspects of Spartan / Ancient History by modern day white supremacists and other political radicals.

He talks about the dangers of this appropriation as people are easily lead from moderate political stances by these appropriations and misconstructions into often radically dangerous groups.

The evidence for Leonidas defiantly declaring molōn labe to Xerxes is very weak. It does not appear in any near-contemporary accounts of the battle, it does not appear in a historical work about the battle, and it receives its first surviving mention by Plutarch in the first or early second century AD. When it is finally mentioned by Plutarch, it is not a verbal conversation using envoys, but an anachronistic-sounding exchange of letters. For this reason we have deemed this claim to be mostly false: it does appear in an ancient source, but that source appears almost 500 years after the battle.

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Footage Attribution: Thermopylae - The Monument for the 300 Spartans
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